New homeless encampment replaces tents with tiny houses

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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It’s a homeless encampment that doesn’t look like a homeless encampment, and as a result, neighbors are supportive.

A new camp in Seattle’s Central District consists of tiny houses instead of tents.  It’s run by Nickelsville, which has two other tent communities—at least one of which wasn’t nearly so well-received.

“Last February it was pretty cold,” Chuck Warden told KIRO 7.

But last February he was living in a tent; this February he’ll be living in a tiny house.

He’s already half moved in—enlisted by Nickelsville to provide security—and he says it’s been surprisingly easy.

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“So far we’ve given five tours to just neighbors who are curious,” Chuck explained.

They’ve been interested, he says—welcoming.

“I think it’s a step up in the right direction,” Nick Schultz, who lives nearby, said.

That’s a totally different reaction from the one many Ballard residents had when the city allowed Nickelsville to set up tents for up to 50 people.

Neighbors told us then the camp was unsightly; they even unsuccessfully petitioned against it. 

But the new Nickelsville consisting of 15 tiny, donated houses and shower and toilet pavilions on church property at 22nd Avenue and East Union Street is certainly not the Ballard Nickelsville.

“The appearance looks really nice too, just a nice little home for them,” said Mikele Pigott, another Central District neighbor.

It’s a pilot project supported by Seattle’s Low Income Housing Initiative, which says homeless shelters are full, and wood is better than canvas.

Chuck says wood is better than canvas for his self-esteem.

“I think the kind of setup they have going here is going to lead a few people to getting back on their feet, a motivational thing,” he concluded.